World Water Day has been celebrated on March 22 every year since 1993 when it was designated by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly to focus attention on the importance of freshwater and advocate for the sustainable management of water resources. Each year, a specific water issue is highlighted and for 2017 the theme is wastewater. This theme links to the objectives identified in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation which includes halving the proportion of untreated wastewater, as well as increasing water recycling and safe reuse.
According to the UN, over 80% of wastewater globally flows back into the environment without being treated or reused.1 While this global average varies by region, it means increased pollution and the loss of valuable nutrients. Specific to agriculture, farmers and processors have an opportunity to treat and recycle wastewater for things like irrigation and cooling systems.
California almond farmer Jim Jasper has been closely involved in a project exploring this exact opportunity. The North Valley Regional Recycled Water Program, a collaborative partnership between cities and the Del Puerto Water District, is sending tertiary-treated wastewater to some 200 family farms along the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. Once complete, the recycled water will be transported via pipelines from the partner cities’ wastewater treatment facilities to the Delta-Mendota Canal where farmers in the Del Puerto Water District will put it to use growing crops including almonds.
Regardless of water source, sustainable water management and efficiency have long been key priorities for the California almond community.2 In fact, over the past two decades, California almond farmers have decreased the amount of water needed to grow a pound of almonds by 33 percent. This is due in large part to Almond Board-funded research and innovation, making the California almond community leaders in water-use efficiency.
To continue to be leaders in this area, Almond Board of California (ABC) recently committed to funding 17 irrigation research projects with an investment of $1.3 million. These projects aim to better understand and refine the basics that support grower day-to-day farming needs, as well as providing a platform for creative, cutting-edge solutions key to precision irrigation.
In addition to academic learnings through research, ABC regularly works with California’s almond farmers to continuously improve their water management practices – be it through workshops, newsletters, or the annual Almond Conference. New in 2016, the Almond Board hired an expert in irrigation and water efficiency to interface with farmers in the field and use existing tools and research to help those across the spectrum of irrigation management precision improve their practices.
Learn more about the almond community’s commitment to water efficiency and irrigation advancements by downloading this factsheet.
1Sato, et al. 2013.
2Sustainable almond farming utilizes production practices that are economically viable and are based upon scientific research, common sense and a respect for the environment, neighbors and employees. The result is a plentiful, nutritious and safe food product.